‘We’re Not Going Back’: New York celebrates Black History Month
Participants, panelists, and performers at the Feb. 28 'We're Not Going Back' event. Top row: Tamika Mallory, Until Freedom; Hon. Robert Jackson, N.Y. State Senate; pianist Emi Augustine; Rev. West McNeill, NYS Poor People's Campaign. Middle Row: Susan DiRaimo, PSC-CUNY; Christian Parra, Citizen Action N.Y.; veteran organizer Bea Lumpkin; artist Len Xiang. Bottom row: Rossana Cambron, Communist Party USA; Dr. Gerald Horne.

NEW YORK—Last Sunday night after watching Trump’s recycled demagogy at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), I thankfully had the uplifting experience of viewing the “We’re Not Going Back” celebration of the African American people’s long march to freedom. We’re Not Going Back is an annual event initiated by the New York Bureau of People’s World. People from all over the country and some around the world tuned in via ZOOM and Facebook.

The two events couldn’t have been more different.

In his speech, Trump boldly stated, “We’ve been winning a lot lately.” Really? I thought he lost the presidency, got himself impeached by the House (which he lost), along with the majority of the Senate. Mr. Trump then tried to steal the presidency by coercing state Republican officials to manufacture votes! Even judges that Trump appointed ruled against these efforts, refusing to go to prison for him.

I don’t believe the former president mentioned it during his CPAC speech, but lest we forget, Trump tried to stage a coup on January 6th. Was that a winner for him too? I don’t think so!

On the other hand, the We’re Not Going Back event was a wonderful example of the potential of today’s turning point moment. I had the pleasure of watching it with family, and everyone came away energized. The event opened with a piano performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Emi Augustine and also featured African American guitar player and folk singer Len Xiang.

Watching the panel’s presentations and cultural performances, it seemed to me that a new “New Left” has boldly sprung up in reaction to Trump’s new fascist right.

This is a broad, connected, and multiracial left that has a large youth and student contingent. This new New Left has moved beyond liberal sentiment and is now calling for deep structural changes. Many embrace socialist alternatives. These were young people who spoke like they were committed to building new progressive majorities. Many of them played a huge role in the defeat of Trump.

Tamika Mallory, a lead organizer of the 2017 Women’s March and a leader of Black Lives Matter, spoke with deep feeling on the ongoing fight to defeat racism both structurally and ideologically.

The speech of 102-year old Bea Lumpkin was especially well received. Bea, a retired public school teacher, joined the Communist Party as a youth in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. She shared stories on how, as a Young Communist League member, she and others fought for the lives of the Scottsboro Defendants and for jobs and relief from massive poverty.

Dr. Gerald Horne, the well-known African American historian, ended the night with a fact-filled keynote on the class struggle, the strategic impact of the fight against slavery and racism, and for the full social, economic, and political liberation of U.S. working people as a whole. Dr. Horne emphasized the historic fight for liberation of African Americans on our country’s development.

The event also featured presentations from the Hon. Robert Jackson and Rev. West McNeil.

Yes, last Sunday was a tale of two moments, one past and reactionary, the other progressive and forward looking. Trump’s meeting reflected the racist right’s attempt to roll back the clock on freedom and equality. There was a big crowd in Orlando, but it was nearly all white and embraced a neo-fascist program. That’s not what the majority of the American people want, as the last election showed.

As Rossana Cambron, the CPUSA’s co-chair, declared in her astute remarks in New York Sunday, “We must take a moment to celebrate our victory in defeating Trump. There is much work to be done, and we will move forward.”



Jarvis Tyner
Jarvis Tyner

Jarvis Tyner is the former executive vice-chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board. Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism, and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appeared on the media, campuses, and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality, and the socialist alternative.